The country representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Mr. Bafotigui Sako, has disclosed that his institution is planning the construction and installation of a 1megawatt ‘run of the river’ mini hydro-power station in Suakoko District, Bong County.
The mini hydro-power station is expected to be constructed on the Mein River, and is expected to provide electricity to approximately 30% of households in Suakoko Town and 15% in the rural area of Suakoko District.
He stressed that the goal of the project is to remove the institutional, technical, policy and economic barriers to the promotion of mini-hydro power for productive application in Liberia.
The UNIDO country representative said that Liberia is reported to be one of the African countries with the highest amount of renewable water resources amenible to mini- and small-hydro power, which has the potential to play a significant role in the development of the national economy if effectively exploited.
“Small hydro-power stations play a major roll in the development of the national economy and address the energy needs of rural communities in Liberia,” he indicated.
According to him, when completed, this project will build on national priorities, taking into account recommendations made in the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), as well as in the power sector master plan. According to that plan, the GoL will ‘begin to develop new hydropower generation capacity and assess other energy sources’ eight.
The PRS’ goal for the energy sector is to “provide reliable, sustainable and affordable energy services to all Liberians in an environmentally sound manner.”
Mr. Sako further estimated that the project would bring electricity from the hydro station to various institutions, including government buildings, small and medium enterprises, and commercial buildings.
The UNIDO boss made the disclosure on Monday December 9, 2013 at the opening of a ten-day training workshop held at the Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia.
The workshop focuses on Hydro Power Project Development in Liberia, and is held under the theme: “Small Hydro-power project Development in Liberia.”
The workshop brings together 40 civil servants from line ministries and agencies, private universities and the Engineering Society of Liberia.
It is being co-financed by United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with Winrock International/Liberia Energy Sector Support Program (LESSP), which is serving as the implementing partner.
Mr. Sako explained that the Suakoko mini-hydro power is the pilot project of the entire program, which is expected to lay the foundation for a market environment for mini hydro-based renewable energy in Liberia.
He noted that similar projects have been successfully implemented by UNIDO in other African countries like Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Developing countries around the world such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia have also benefited from this activity.
Currently, he is serving as representative to three West African countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Earlier, the National Project Coordinator, A. Brahima Sackie urged the participants’ to make use of the knowledge and get prepared of the greater challenges is ahead of them.
For her part, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and focal person of the mini hydro-power installation in the country, Madam Anyaa Vohiri, underscored that the EPA is committed to its partners in providing such services as relate to its mandate.
As an institution, “We need technical people who will be able to undertake initiatives like this,” said Madam Vohiri.
Also speaking at the workshop, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor, senior Senator for Bong County, welcomed the gesture and described it as timely for the people of her district.
According to her, thirty percent of the county's urban and peri-urban population needs to have access to reliable modern energy services, which will enable them to meet their basic needs and services.
The senior Senator of Bong County also urged participants to make use of the training and thanked UNIDO and its partners for the opportunity.
The Executive Director of Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), Augustus V. Goanue, also lauded the organizers for the program.
Mr. Goanue told participants that there role is to facility and support Liberia’s economic.
The RREA boss also stated that his institution is also responsible for supplying modern energy to rural Liberia.
The training is being facilitated by a group of professors from India University. They include Dr. Arun Kumar, Team Leader; Dr. Praven Saxena and Dr.Girish Chandra Singh Gaur.
Others are Dr. Rahul Dev Garg and Dr. Rajeshwer Prasad Saini, who will train the participants in basic hydropower installation techniques such as Topographical Survey, Hydrologocal survey, Geological survey and amongst others.